YEAR IN REVIEW: A Round-Up of the Most Vital Art Stories We Published in 2012
Personally, this year has been a topsy-turvy one. Since assuming editor duties back in March, I’ve written less, as my energy goes into directing a website that has grown, and grown again, and now has a staff some five times what it did when I began here just two years ago. I've done work I'm proud of, but it all amounts to barely 18 articles, not a lot in a year with so much interesting art and important news (you can review them all, Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-davis" target="_blank">here). In 2013, my resolution is to get to writing more, and with a capable features editor, Lori Fredrickson, I think I have more than just my own resolve behind me.
In the meantime, it hasn’t all been pushing papers in circles. In particular, what has made this year worthwhile has been the chance to work with a tremendously talented staff of writers, who have, week after week, labored hard to turn out essays, reviews, and reports that have been a joy to edit. I've put together a list with a few of my personal favorites:
* Architecture critic Kelly Chan kicked off an excellent series of think pieces — including a report from the Bronx’s new Via Verde Housing project and some illuminating thoughts on the practice of the late Lebbeus Woods — with a wide-ranging essay on the craze for pop-up architecture and what it meant for changing notions of urbanism.
* Former assistant editor Kyle Chayka — now decamped to rejoin the staff over at Hyperallergic — honed his voice with a sharp series of stories about art and technology. Among my favorites was his look at how artists were using hacked Xbox Kinect controllers to push the boundaries of photography.
* Back in June, Terri Ciccone — our social media director and also a contributor — put together a thoroughly reported piece, with dealers and artists weighing in on whether Bushwick had already passed the point of diminishing returns as an art neighborhood, given the sheer velocity of gentrification.
* Rachel Corbett offered the best analysis I know of the issues involved in the recently passed “New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law,” which seeks to provide increased legal protections for artists in their interactions with dealers. Given recent scandals, that's important information indeed — and Rachel's story also happens to have one of the most memorable kickers I can remember, to boot.
* Kate Deimling, who doubles as our French translator — to her you owe one of the year’s most amusing stories, on Paris’s attempt to discourage noise pollution by deploying highly trained squadrons of mimes — also tackled a variety of news from the international arena. The one that stands out is her lengthy report investigating, and calling into question, the hype around the hunt for a supposedly “lost” fresco by Leonardo da Vinci.
* Market reporter Shane Ferro — who left the site at the beginning of fall for a sojourn on the West Coast — offered a Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Beneath-the-high-end-hype-art-prices-are-treading-water">sharp analysis of the auction market, showing how headline-grabbing records at the top end masked stagnation lower down. You can expect more such analysis in the new year — Shane returns to our team in January.
* Julia Halperin really did too much significant work this year to try to break out item by item, from her assessment of the forces driving smaller galleries out of Chelsea to multiple reports on the toll of the new “event-based” art economy of fairs (she even uncovered typical booth prices for 13 of the most important fairs). As evidence of sheer reportorial gumption, however, Julia's series of stories on the issues faced by New York galleries in the wake of Hurricane Sandy are probably the place to start (here, here, and here).
* In response to the Anne-Marie Slaughter’s hotly debated story in the Atlantic on the struggles of contemporary women trying to balance family and career, Alanna Martinez solicited stories from prominent women working in the arts. The feature touched off so much interest that we published a follow-up highlighting the full essay-length texts we received from a variety of important artists, curators, and museum directors.
* Allison Meier launched our new “Emerging” column spotlighting worthy artists who are on the rise, adding an important element to the ARTINFO mix. Already she’s profiled Firelei Baez, Serra Bothwell Fels, Juliette Losq, and Martin Roth.
* Reid Singer caught early on the story of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, a small Italian institution whose director captured international headlines by burning items from his own collection in a protest against austerity measures hitting the cultural sector. I also found his recent feature on archaelogists in Jerusalem who fear that their work is being hijacked by settler politics particularly worthy of note.
* What can I say about Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben-19076">Ben Sutton? Essentially, he is editing a publication all of his own, having taken charge of our In The Air newswire (you can see his own picks for some of the year’s best entries, here). I wouldn’t want people to think that he was just the guy who provided a meticulous history of the mustache in art last month, though. His review of the recently reopened Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia shows his critical chops.
* For market watchers, Judd Tully’s many, many, many impeccable auction and fair reports continued this year to provide essential analysis. I wouldn’t know where to begin in picking one (“The Scream” sale?) — but I will say that it was a pleasure to actually get to see him in action in a pair of video reports from Frieze and Art Basel Miami Beach.
* For sheer amusement, I come back to “Cool Girls Got Off at Contemporary,” Chloe Wyma’s riff on the behind-the-scenes office culture at Sotheby’s (extrapolated from an n+1 report by Alice Gregory), as well as her survey of Yelp reviews of Chelsea galleries. For intellectual verve, however, one of the standouts from the year overall is Chloe's dissection of Richard Phillips’s paintings at Gagosian. A joy to read.
* In the wake of Sandy, Sara Roffino ventured to Greenpoint to document the damage to the studios that called the neighborhood home, offering a poignant look at the toll the storm had taken on artists, some of whom lost their life's work to the waters.
* Design writer Janelle Zara taught me a thing or two, that’s for sure. As for favorites, I recall her lengthy examination of how 3-D printing technology promised to transform design, from back in March, and her opus on the trend towards increasing incomprehensibility in men's watches, from April. But I am equally equally enthusiastic about her year-end essay on how irony is eating design alive, from just yesterday.
* Finally, any assessment of 2012 wouldn’t be complete without mention of the many projects for which the entire team has pitched in on, in various ways. The most notable was our ranked list of “The 100 Most Iconic Artworks of the Last 5 Years,” which the full staff helped assemble before it was voted on by a team including ARTINFO UK's Coline Milliard, ARTINFO China's Madeleine O'Dea, and Modern Painters editor Daniel Kunitz, alongside outside judges Jen Graves, Martha Schwendener, Walter Robinson, and Christian Viveros-Faune.
Among the more amusing of our team projects was our round-up of amusingly vitriolic art world reactions to reality show “Gallery Girls,” harvested from a screening of the program's debut episode that we held with various colleagues. There were also fun projects like the stories where we offered our picks for artworks we actually liked from craft website Etsy and fantasy art site DeviantArt, or our graded list of art by musicians from David Byrne (A-) to Ringo Starr (D).
Last but not least, who could forget our blockbuster Thanksgiving feature “24 Artists’ Childhood Hand Turkeys as Imagined by the Staff of ARTINFO?” I'll let you guess who did which.